If you think that arthritis is just for old-timers, think again. According to research, one in five American adults has been diagnosed with arthritis and half of those who get it are actually under 65.
Although most people wait to get checked by a doctor until the pain interferes with their everyday lives, pain isn’t actually the only sign of trouble.
According to Patience White, Vice President of the Arthritis Foundation and professor of medicine and pediatrics at Washington, D. C. ‘s George Washington University of Medicine and Health Sciences, early is better when it comes to arthritis diagnosis. Studies have shown that treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) within the first months of onset can reduce joint malformation and may even put the disease into remission using the latest treatments. As for the degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis (the most common kind of arthritis), the earlier you begin behavioral changes, the higher the chance you may be able to preserve mobility and manage pain.
Watch out for these early signs of arthritis:
3) Morning stiffness.
What you should watch out for: Having a hard time moving about easily for half an hour or longer.
Everybody is stiff in the morning, but it usually abates as you stretch and start moving. Chaim Putterman, chief of rheumatology at New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center says that with rheumatoid arthritis, it can take about half an hour or even all day to loosen up. People suffering from it describe it as feeling encased or being unable to move like a prisoner, which can be more difficult than the pain itself.
Why you should pay attention: Stiffness due to inactivity is a trademark symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. It can happen again in the day after you’ve been sitting still for a short period of time, like watching a movie, for example. On the other hand, when it comes to osteoarthritis, the more you move your afflicted joints, the more painful they tend to feel.
2) Pain when climbing stairs.
What you should watch out for: Knee joint locks or feels painful when you bend it, like during going up or down the stairs.
Another red flag is having knee pain, especially if you’re overweight. Excess weight is raises your risk of developing arthritis as every extra pound is another extra load for your knees. Other types of painful physical function you should watch out for include having difficulty extending your elbow, unable to stand on your tiptoe, change in how steadily you can stand or walk and limping.
Why you should pay attention: Aside from being the largest joint in the body, the knee is the second most common spot for osteoarthritis. Other key targets include the back, the ankles, the hips, the thumbs and the hands.
1) Agonizing sudden pain on the big toe.
What you should watch out for: A joint that suddenly hurts like crazy, hot to the touch, tender and reddish in color. Although this type of pain can happen to other joints, the big toe on your foot is the most common spot. Only one joint is usually affected at a time.
While most cases have reported the pain as happening suddenly, some people have reported the joint becoming red, hot and tender first before feeling the pain, which clears for a time before recurring again. Some people have also reported feeling the sudden onset of pain after a night of excessive alcohol consumption or after eating a lot of protein.
Why you should pay attention: Sudden, agonizing pain in the large toe is likely a gout attack, the most common type of inflammatory arthritis and second most common form of arthritis. Gout happens when uric acid, your body’s natural waste product, builds up in your body tissues as needle-shaped crystals. This can happen due to either your body producing too much uric acid or being unable to dispose of it well through your urine.